compatibility and the OSD

Rick Moen rick at
Sun Sep 26 18:32:42 UTC 2004

Quoting Kevin Bedell (kevin at

> Any company that would want to define a standard API and release an
> open source implementation of that API would be apprehensive that 'the
> open source community' would take the open source code and release
> derivative works that extend/enhance that API (or even change the API
> itself).

This apprehension presupposes either either an extremely feeble company,
unable or unwilling to exercise leadership and make their version of the
programming interface[1] much more compelling than that of the
"community", _or_ is being attacked by a powerful and motivated,
hostile, competing company.  Or both.

The former probably has bigger problems than variant third-party
implementations.  The latter's enemy doesn't especially _need_ the right
to create derivatives, since it can create its own independent codebases
to carry out much the same purpose.  (Can you say C#?)

> Then, the open source license would need to dictate that derivative
> works were fine as long as they still passed the tests in the TCK.
> Otherwise, there would be limitations to the ability to redistribute
> derivative works.

That, of course, would _not_ be open source, but rather just another
proprietary ghetto.  The hypothetical company can feel free to create
yet another of those, but it'd better have a really big advertising
budget, because it's probably not going to get new mindshare any other

> So is this bad? I don't believe so.

Good or bad, it's proprietary.  You seem to want to talk around that
point.  This mailing list has had similar conversations before, some,
oh, hundreds of times.

> On the other hand, as more and larger companies attempt to 'open
> source' their core technologies it may be worth considering at some
> point how to alter the OSD to....

...allow substantial restriction over derivative works?  And thereby
throw away the very core concept of open source?  Not bloody likely.

[1] "API" is Microsoft jargon, which I would rather eschew, thanks.

Cheers,                             * Contributing Editor, Linux Gazette *
Rick Moen                       -*- See the Linux Gazette in its new home: -*-
rick at                       <>         

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